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College of Arts and Sciences research

The power of symbiosis

Stephanie Porter.“Understanding the complex and often positive role the microbiome plays in the health of plants and animals has precipitated a real renaissance in biology,” says microbiologist Stephanie Porter, who studies the evolution of cooperation and plant–microbe symbiosis. “There’s been a blossoming of ideas due to new genomic tools for understanding this microbiome—the set of all microbes that live in and on plants and animals.”

“But there’s also been a shift in our thinking about microbes. We’ve moved from microbes being viewed strictly as the cause of diseases or that they are at best harmless, to thinking they have » More …

Glacier mice at play

People at a beach.Glacier mice could be something from a fairytale—mossy little puffballs filled with tiny fanciful creatures.

“They are adorable—they really do look like little rodents,” says glacier biologist Scott Hotaling, a postdoctoral research associate in the School of Biological Sciences at WSU. Hotaling studies organisms that live in the world’s coldest locations such as the ice sheets in Alaska and Iceland where these glacier moss balls » More …

More economic worries mean less caution about COVID‑19

Hands and hand sanitizer.Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19, such as physical distancing, limiting trips from home and washing hands, according to a study led by WSU Vancouver psychology professor Tahira Probst.

“We all have a finite set of resources at our disposal, whether it’s money, time or social support, and individuals who have fewer of those resources appear » More …

Fallen, but not from history

Roses laid on the WSU veterans memorial.Charles Kirkham. Noel Plowman. Toll Seike. Allen Ferguson. Sidney Beinke. Myron “Mike” Carstensen. Archie Buckley.

They were husbands, fathers, sons, brothers. One was a standout college athlete and beloved coach. A couple were pilots. A few quit school to serve. Some were never found.

These seven servicemen are a handful of nearly 260 military personnel with ties to WSU who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II. Now, 75 years after the end of the war, the stories of the men and women who didn’t » More …

Preserving a nearly⁠-lost legacy

US marine corps war memorial.Following a talk about the Fallen Cougars Project in Pullman last Veterans Day, Kathy Aiken (’80 PhD history) shared a faded newspaper clipping with the speakers. The obituary for her father’s friend noted that he had—like Aiken’s dad— attended Washington State College for a year and a half before joining the United States Army to fight in World War II.

“Samantha and Ray looked at it, and said, ‘We don’t have this guy in our project.’ And it started us on this odyssey,” says Aiken, a professor emerita and » More …

Interdisciplinary research on origins of behavior

Parents with an infant.Funded by grant from the National Science Foundation, scientists in WSU’s Department of Psychology and Department of Human Development are launching a four-year study of babies’ emotional reactions and responses, seeking a greater understanding of how humans develop safe and unsafe behaviors.

Researchers will study infants’ approach and avoidance behaviors, to understand how they develop in emerging brain » More …

Hiding in plain sight

Carla Olman.For many years, she never spoke about World War II.  “It was too difficult. You try to forget. You try to go on with life.”

But by the time 91-year-old Carla Olman Peperzak met Raymond Sun, a WSU associate professor of history, the former teenage operative in the Dutch Resistance had dedicated the rest of her life to telling her story.

“Her generation is disappearing very, very rapidly,” Sun says. “We’re really running out of these witnesses. There’s some sense of urgency to » More …

WSU research behind potential Alzheimer’s drug

Leen Kawas and Joe Harding.It was 1991 and medicinal chemist Joe Harding was in his lab researching potential new options for relieving high blood pressure. Anomalies kept showing up in his lab tests, and if they meant what he thought they might, he and his research partner, WSU psychology professor John (Jay) Wright, were on the brink of a different breakthrough.

“I kept getting phone calls from Joe, and on each one he was more excited,” recalls Wright, who at the time was » More …

Facebook political ads more partisan, less negative than TV

A computer screen displaying Facebook's login page.More political candidates may be shifting primarily to social media to advertise rather than TV, according to a study of advertising trends led by WSU political science professor Travis Ridout. Looking at the 2018 campaign season, Ridout and his colleagues also found that Facebook political ads were more partisan, less negative and less issue-focused than those on TV.

“The 2018 race showed that social media can be helpful to candidates who may not have a lot of resources, including challengers and those who are not already well known,” said Ridout, a corresponding author on » More …

Undergraduate fellowships support research, creative work

College of Arts and Sciences - Washington State University.The WSU Office of Undergraduate Research named 12 CAS students as recipients of four different fellowships for 2020-21. Each will receive funding to support of mentored research, scholarship and creative activities for the 2020-21 academic year.

“In addition to the long-established Auvil and Carson undergraduate research awards and the NSF-funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), we received additional support this year from an anonymous donor. This made it possible to support » More …